February 24, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Sleepy Hollow”


Tonight’s Season 2 finale of SLEEPY HOLLOW conspicuously concluded in a way that could also serve as a series finale, a distinct possibility because this underwhelming season has left the series with ratings down 40% from last year’s heyday (and less than half of its original hit premiere).  The finale turned out to be one of the more enjoyable hours of the season, but it may very well have been too late.  As sometimes happens, the Sleepy Hollow team, headed by showrunner Mark Goffman, spent the year seemingly without an understanding of what made their show work in the first place.

For all the magical mythology that inundates Sleepy Hollow, the key to its success was the relationship between time-traveling former Revolutionary War officer Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and contemporary Sleepy Hollow police Leftenant (as Crane would have it) Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie).  The two of them are mystical “witnesses,” destined to doublehandedly protect the planet from supernatural creatures who break out of hell or other unpleasant haunts, but they’re also affectionately mismatched buddies.  Season 1 was marked, for all its wild plotting and fantastical showdowns, by the light will-they-or-won’t-they charm between the two leads, the answer being decidedly “won’t” because Crane’s powerful witch wife Katrina (Katia Winter) was imprisoned in purgatory, and Crane’s centuries-long feelings for her, despite his inability to reach her, served as a powerful obstacle to whatever feelings he might be having for Abbie.

In Season 2, Goffman and company made the dramatically disastrous decision to free Katrina, who was an utter drip as a character.  For all the effort the show put into making Katrina part of the team, Sleepy Hollow didn’t benefit at all from her increased presence, since the witch could be counted upon to constantly make the wrong decision, whether it was a sentimental attachment to her ex-boyfriend the Headless Horseman of the Apocalypse, or loyalty to her evil warlock son Henry/Jeremy (John Noble), who was older than either of his parents due to the whole time-traveling/witchcraft hugger-mugger.   Apart from dragging down the show whenever she appeared, Katrina’s existence blocked any possibility of the Crane/Abbie relationship deepening.

There were other flaws throughout the season.  The show made Abbie’s sister Jenny (Lyndie Greenwood) a regular but then seemed to have no idea what to do with her, toning her down considerably from her semi-crazy sparkplug personality in Season 1.  A pseudo-Indiana Jones type collector of supernatural artifacts, Nick Hawley (Matt Barr), was introduced as a potential romantic interest for either Abbie or Jenny, but although he was ultimately coupled with Jenny, the show never seemed to have its heart in the relationship, and he soon vanished.

In the final episodes of the season, Sleepy Hollow finally tried turning Katrina into its Big Bad, something the show has needed since it prematurely got rid of the demon Moloch in the midseason finale, which left the second half of the season as an uninspiring parade of repetitive demons-of-the-week hours.  Once again, Katrina’s loyalty to her son blinded her to whatever destruction he planned for the human race, and when he decided to start a super-coven in Sleepy Hollow, Katrina determined that it was worth killing Crane and Abbie to achieve.  At the end of last week’s episode, that led to Katrina going back in time to kill Crane before he could ever get to the present, with Abbie stowing along for the ride.

The ensuing episode, written by Goffman and directed by Paul Edwards, amusingly both reversed the original dynamics of the series, with Abbie as the visitor out of time who had to convince Crane who she was, and marked a return to the trope of Crane discovering the marvels of the future (like selfies).  It also included a nice twist where Benjamin Franklin (guest star Timothy Busfield) appeared to be decapitated, thus derailing the course of history, although a reversal of the time-travel spell conveniently returned all the events that had happened in 1781 to their original order.  In the end, although no one on Sleepy Hollow is necessarily permanently dead, the show appeared to kill off both Katrina and Henry, not to mention curing police Captain Irving (Orlando Jones) of his own demonic possession, clearing the decks for a potential Season 3 that would strike out in a new direction.

If Sleepy Hollow is to return, some redefinition would definitely be required.  Despite the continuing fine performances by Mison and Beharie and their watchable chemistry, though, and the show’s consistently impressive production values, it feels like Sleepy Hollow may have reached the end of its ingenuity.  In a TV universe that hardly lacks for supernatural threats against humanity, it may be time for some other heroes to save the world.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."